Cutting My Hair Was The Worst Mistake I've Ever Made

I took out my frustrations on my natural curls and saw the repercussions.

Her Voice

On March 4, 2017, at the tender age of 31, I knew in my spirit that this was a particular time for a woman. Wherever you go, you hear a woman speak about how being in your thirties gives you clarity about the woman you want to become. An automatic switch occurs in our brains that make us in tune with our mind, body, and spirit. You are quick wit and have a no-nonsense approach to everything. You are more confident then you've ever felt before. Those values didn't align with how I truly felt inside. At that time in my life, I had been wearing my natural hair for five years.

I enjoyed the many stages of my luscious curls. I religiously watched hours upon hours of YouTube videos and spent hundreds of dollars on hair care products. I became obsessed with how I wanted my hair to turn out. I spent hours perfecting the perfect twist out. I enjoyed the process, but there were times I wanted to give up and throw in the towel. As much as I enjoyed my hair, I noticed that it started to tell a story. It went from bouncy, thick, moisturized curls to brittle, thin, and prone-to-breakage curls.

Stress and depression ruined my natural hair.

At the time, I didn't know what actions I needed to take to revive my hair. As my hair started to become an insecurity of mine, I made an impulse decision to cut it one day. As I look back on that dark time in my life, cutting my hair was one of the worst decisions I've ever made.

Stress And Depression


I was getting restless and impatient in my natural hair journey. While patiently waiting in the doctor's office one day, I decided to do the unthinkable. I wanted to cut my hair. I did not experience a breakup, nor did I lose my job. I just wanted to change my identity. Depression works in mysterious ways. You get consumed with your thoughts that you don't want to be yourself anymore. I was one year in from being diagnosed with depression, and I had no clue what to do.

I didn't have the resources to take steps to heal. I suffered in silence. I was confused, angry, lonely, and sad.

I wanted to make sense of it all, and I thought a haircut would be symbolic of a fresh start; at least that's how it plays out in movies. You stand in the mirror with clippers in hand crying and buzzing your tresses away. The next day, you jump out of bed wearing leather and high heel boots like you have it all together. Unfortunately, that's not how my story ended.

As far back as I can remember, my hair has always been the topic of discussion. From press-and-curls to ponytails with knocker balls, I still received compliments. Other women and girls were shocked to hear that I never had a perm and that I'm not "mixed." My mother took pride in teaching me healthy hair care.

The Cut

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At my hair appointment, I had a feeling of anxiousness. I wanted this hair off of my head as soon as possible. I wanted the dead weight finally lifted. I wanted to be happy and carefree. As the stylist started to cut, I wanted to see my depression land on the floor with the rest of my hair. I became allergic. I didn't want to see my hair, feel my hair, take pictures of my hair. I didn't want to make it an event. I just wanted it gone. Walking out of that salon with a fresh haircut awakened my spirit. It wasn't until that moment I experienced sunshine and good weather. My five senses became alert.

That was the first time I smiled in a very long time. I was finally happy. I was ready to conquer the world.

The first couple of years without hair were terrific. I no longer had to spend hours washing and prepping my hair for the week. Frizz and humidity were an afterthought. The fact that I could put the product in my hair and smooth it all over and leave the house without hesitation was exciting. My hair no longer became a priority. My friends and family didn't agree entirely with my decision. Some enjoyed it, and others disliked it. At the time, how others felt about my hair wasn't my problem at all. I would receive compliments on how my hair matched my personality. I finally felt confident. It was an automatic mood-changer.

Having long hair dictated how I lived my life. Sweating wasn't an option so I couldn't work out, getting in the pool during a hot summer's day gave me anxiety. I never participated in water balloon fights. My hair became another layer of my depression that I no longer needed. Having shorter hair didn't occupy my thoughts as much anymore; I no longer cared. Freedom has no barriers, and at that particular time, I was free yet still depressed and gloomy. I let myself and my hair go, and I had no regrets.

The Change of Heart

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September 2018 was when I decided to get therapy. Five months in, my perspective on certain things began to change. Something I once wanted, I no longer desired. Things I needed, I no longer found necessary. I started to inherit a certain level of clarity that I've never had. My insecurities led me to believe that my hair was one of the many problems I was dealing with, which caused me to slip deeper into a depression.

After being asked "What does beauty look like to you?" from my therapist, I quickly realized that having longer hair represented beauty to me. I knew there was nothing wrong with having shorter hair. I felt like I no longer needed my short hair to get rid of my depression. I wanted the best of both worlds by coping with my depression and getting my curls back.

After reflecting on that time, I realized three things that I should've done before cutting my hair off.

Dissecting What Femininity Meant To Me

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As many of us will admit, I was one of those people who loved the Explore page on Instagram. You can scroll through an endless library of hair products, wig tutorials, and modern hair trends. I got lost in a trance. I started to compare my hair to the women I would see.

When I looked in the mirror, I saw a woman who had the potential to be beautiful, but deep down, I felt unattractive. Having my hair at my old length made me feel like a woman. I realized that looking like a woman is only half of the battle. I had to analyze what femininity meant to me.

I can say proudly that my womanhood has nothing to do with my hair, but it has everything to do about how I see myself in this lifetime. Anyone can achieve a look. Femininity is more of a spiritual journey. When I started to become grateful for the power that I have as a woman, I could just cry. It's an energy that one must meditate on and practice daily.

Self-Love Is an Inside Job

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What we think about ourselves shows others how we would like to be respected and loved. If you can't acknowledge the love you have for yourself, others will find it impossible to see it. It's a constant tug of war that you have with your mind daily. If you're stuck in this predicament, I'm here to tell you that it can change with consistency and patience. I had to realize that how I viewed myself was a bad habit that I allowed to slip into my subconscious. I was ignorant to the fact that my words have power.

It's impossible to live with confidence if you are always saying that you aren't worthy. I was introduced to affirmations by my therapist. Repeating something as simple as "I affirm that I am willing to release the causes and patterns in my consciousness that are creating any negative conditions in my life" can release any or all the pressure you put on yourself. There are endless amounts of premade affirmation cards available online. Reducing my negative self-talk worked for me. I was encouraged to create self-care habits.

Many people think that self-care means a spa day every day, which isn't the case. Self-care simply means to find joy in things that interest you or something you could see yourself doing for free. That's when I found writing as my joy. My negative thoughts reminded me of a revolving door. As a group of negative thoughts exit, a new set of negative words enter. Writing provides clarity. It gives my thoughts and feelings a voice. For many, that might not be as rewarding, but to hear that I'm an inspiration to women eliminates my depression. I can finally say without hesitation that I'm proud of myself for being patient with myself. To be brave enough to allow others to read my stories brings power and grace that no haircut could give me.

I Should've Gone to Therapy First

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I can admit while looking back at all of the choices I've made that I wasn't in my right state of mind. My mind was so weak at that time that I could've quickly fallen into drugs and alcohol. On the one hand, I was desperate for an easy fix. Depression didn't look good on me. The more I attempted to hide, the more it would show up through my hair. My logic at the time was that my hair was damaged. Cutting it will give my hair a chance to grow healthy again.

What I didn't realize is that my supply of band-aids was never-ending. I overcompensated a lot to cover or mask my pain.

Therapy should've been my first option. I would've used the tools to help me navigate through depression and anxiety. The fact that I had the chance to speak my mind without feeling judged would've made me feel so much better. My methods to cope only dealt with the surface. The therapist would want to get to the root.

I can write and display what I should have done during that time for hours. Still, as I'm going through this process of healing, I can admit that the idea of therapy was accepted, but being willing to sit down and speak created another layer of anxiety. I wasn't ready, and that is OK. I needed that tough time in my life to help me put certain things into perspective today. I can proudly say that I've completed my first year of therapy, my last haircut was February 2019, and I've been growing it out ever since.

From an excellent spiritual place, I can determine what hairstyles I want to try. I created a rule that if I ever feel the need to cut my hair that I follow these simple steps: Write it out, speak out loud, take a nap, then find the right protective style.

xoNecole is always looking for new voices and empowering stories to add to our platform. If you have an interesting story or personal essay that you'd love to share, we'd love to hear from you. Contact us at submissions@xonecole.com.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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